Wednesday 22 April 2015

Card making with the 'Daring Cardmakers' challenge: 'Something green, and pointy,and Arrow-y'

Hi hi.

I couldn't tell you the last time I did this - joined in with a blog challenge ... just for fun, because I fancied it, because I was inspired to get creating- but here I am!

[p.s: if you're anticipating an anniversary card from me next month ... look away now.]

[p.p.s: just to clarify, that message is intended for James .... don't be disappointed if I haven't made you an anniversary card ...]

It was Nat's prompt on the Daring Cardmaker's blog that did it: to create a card based on the TV show 'Arrow' but as I've never seen the show, I'm not entirely sure why it grabbed me!

Maybe it reminded me of when my friend Kirsty and I used to run The Copy & Paste Project blog - where we'd take inspiration from all areas of culture - and use it to create a new project? Or maybe it was Nat's impassioned description of the show that won me over ... because goodness knows I'm not a stranger to being utterly besotted with a TV show [hello Justifed and Sherlock ...]!

And so ... Nat's challenge was to create a card which - appropriately - must feature an arrow but with could also optionally include:

"anything else from Arrow into your cards - like the colour green (as Oliver Queen knows, it's not easy being green), a nod to the Starling city skyline, comic book super heroes, Felicity Smoak's iconic glasses, somehow getting the word Sinceriously on your card..."

And here's what I came up with in response:
  • Arrow? Yep.
  • Green? For sure. 
  • City skyline? Well .. not quite .. but there is some sort of sky happening in the picture. And it's green!
  • Comic book super heroes? Again ... not quite but there is a mysterious figure in the shadows ...
  • Felicity Smoak's iconic glasses? Well, considering I don't really know who that is ... I think I did OK with the wooden glasses which I coloured in black and coated with Glossy Accents:

The illustration I used is part of a set of 40 mini cards featuring work by Kim ji Hyuck which I've been using to make more cards all ever week since Nat's challenge kick-started my crafting-for-pleasure! 

This particular set is called 'Winter Sonata' and I got them here from Lemon Cat Shop on Etsy. [I'm a bit obsessed with Korean stationary!]

So, that's my response to the 'Something green, and pointy,and Arrow-y' challenge at Daring Cardmakers. Just for fun. No prizes involved. Purely because I felt like it! [Isn't it nice when that happens?]

Maybe I should try making some cards based on my own favourite shows next ... we'll see ...

Thanks for stopping by today. If you get a minute to leave a comment, please do. Who doesn't love getting comments?

Julie :-)

Wednesday 15 April 2015

Where do all the unwanted books go? Plundering pages without the guilt.

Hello hello.

My name is Julie ... and I cut up old books. And - better still - I don't feel guilty about it ...
I know some people do, and that's fine, that's what me and my shop is here for. [After all my tag line is 'I cut up the books ... so you don't have to'!!]

There's a few reasons I don't feel bad about it:
  1. I don't take a knife to precious, valuable editions :: I'm thrifty and crafty... not devoid of common sense!
  2. I rescue books from the ignominy of being left on the shelf [or worse still ... the damp cardboard box] and give them a new lease of life in my own art/craft and that of my customers :: just think of me as a fairy Godmother sending the dowdy and dusty Cinderellas of the book world to the ball!
  3. The majority of the time I'm donating to a charity while collecting interesting supplies.
Yesterday, on my 'With Julie Kirk' Facebook page I shared a story from The Guardian all about the world of selling second hand books because this quote had leapt out at me:

"Colin Stephens, founder and director of Sunrise Books in England, was thumbing through a charity shop’s bookshelf when the manager told him how much she’d come to hate used books. Every few days, she complained, she would have to load the trunk of her car with the shop’s excess donations and shuttle them to the landfill, in her own spare time and at her own expense."

I have no idea if this is standard practice and yet I'm equally unaware about what else could happen to all those unwanted books that are sent to charity shops which then remain unwanted!

I do know that Healthy Planet do their part by rescuing books destined for landfill and giving them away for free [if you're in the UK you can check their map to see if there's a Books for Free shop near you].

And surely if you got your hands on a rescued, free, book ... you wouldn't feel bad about using it in whatever creative way you fancied? Would you?

I stand by my argument that I'm doing the books [and the environment] a favour by reusing, re-purposing and re-loving these unwanted items.

Just think for a minute:

If you were an old book wouldn't you rather end up on a collage, a greeting card, a work of art ... rather than ending your days in the big papier-mâché pile underground?

I know I would.

Julie :-)

*Greeting card: hand made by me - using an original vintage advertising image.

Wednesday 1 April 2015

My Month in Numbers 2015: March

Hello hello.

Well March has flounced out of the year with an impressively chilly, windswept, grey and rainy exit so I guess it's time for me to summarise the last 31 days ... in numbers.

[If you're new here and you'd like to join in the number-crunching community then you can read all about it here].

It seems only fitting that we start off with something particularly noteworthy, something that hasn't happened for 16 years ...

9.34am = the time when the 90[ish]%  partial eclipse reached peak coverage:
This was so exciting to me! As I didn't have any of those special glasses I hadn't expected to be able to capture a clear shot like this but, on the morning of the eclipse, the thought came to me that we had a roll of UV filter film somewhere - the kind you put on windows to stop fabric fading - and it was perfect for the job!

So I just sat in my workroom, camera on the tripod, clutching the UV film [folded over several times into a burned-retina-avoiding 10 layers lens] and watched the whole thing; alternating the lens between my eyes and the camera to both enjoy the experience there and then - in the moment - and to capture lots of photos for prosperity!

Now on to a more mundane experience - one which, unlike an eclipse - occurs more often than every 15 or so years.

But only slightly more often ...

41 = the number of items I ironed in my first ironing session since possibly around November 2014!
I had ironed the occasional individual items quickly, on the floor, when I really fancied wearing it ... but I hadn't done a full stand-up-til-it's-all-gone session for ... erm ... a while.

And, as I certainly didn't go naked through the winter, what this goes to show is:
  1. just how many leggings, stretchy jerseys, jeans and chunky jumpers I've been wearing - none of which I ever iron anyway and ...
  2. just how many clothes the pair of us have that we could keep returning to the wardrobe to find other crease free items to wear until either of us could face the ironing pile!  
With all that in mind ... it's a good job there are no fines issued for overdue ironing ... unlike ...

56p = the fine I had to pay on my overdue library books:
It's a rare event but ... I always feel really guilty when it happens! I'm just glad I could use the self-service machines and didn't have to face a librarian ...

After paying for my crimes and taking out 4 more books we went for tea ...

A 9" square take-out cake box ...
We went to a restaurant - '12 Harland Place' - which is appropriately named for a statistical summary like this! And after selecting our deserts we opted for the take-out option [mainly so we could go home and eat them it in our pyjamas in front of The Good Wife]. Here's what we found inside the huuuuuge box ...

... to carry 2 tiny cakes!
They were quite delicious though, and hey, size isn't everything I guess ... which reminds me ...
570 SPAM emails received over just 3.5 days while I was offline. I get lots of SPAM, most of which has absolutely filthy subject lines ... and contains even filthier requests and promises!  And fortunately it's all well caught in my SPAM folder which I tend to check, and delete, regularly.

And because I'm constantly deleting them I hadn't really ever kept track of just how many drop in each day. But when I logged back in after those 3.5 days I was pretty impressed!!

BTW: I check my SPAM folder not because I'm worried about 'real' mail making its way in there [it happens rarely] but rather because in amongst the vile click bait and the Viagra offers there's plenty in there that makes me laugh. Occasionally I'll entertain James by reading out a list of the best/worst/most bizarre to have landed that week [I know what you're thinking .. that it must be a laugh-a-minute round our house ...] when he often has to look at the screen to check I'm not just making them up. But I think that's the start of a post all of its own ...

So, yes, I had those 570 treats awaiting me upon my return ... but where had I been?? Well ... here:
12 = the number of times I've attended a 'Crafting in the Country' weekend with my friends.
  • However, this was only the 3rd time we've stayed here, at the picturesque Grisedale Barn, Threshfield, N.Yorkshire.
  • 7 of us went this time ... there was meant to be 8 but at the very last minute, 1 had to stay home. Which was doubly a shame as there'd been planned a surprise Hen party for the person in question which involved 20 pink balloons, party poppers and several cocktails.
  • Not that we let the lack of the guest of honour stop us enjoying it all any way!
Inexplicably - in amongst all our crafting and eating - we also had a 'click and catch' game to play ...
For reference: yes, that's generally the facial expression I tend towards when faced with sporting activity.
  • That aside - all that clicking and catching of ping pong balls provided some much needed cardio-vascular exercise. Up until that point the most activity we'd seen all weekend was when we spent 15 minutes rummaging for bargains in a sale box of crafting 'bits' at the Harrogate Papercraft Extravaganza!
  • Following the click and catch game we lost several of the ping pong balls and so that night, in pyjamas, and with torch in hand I went on hunt under all the furniture. I found 2 balls and - strangely - another ping pong ball that wasn't even from our game!!!
  • Really ... what are the chances of you going to hunt for a lost ping pong ball, in a rental cottage in the middle of nowhere, and finding one that isn't one of the ones you brought with you?
For the record: while I was ball-hunting I also found: 1 house from a Monopoly game, 1 hazelnut [shell on], 1 pea nut [shell off], 3 beads, lots of fluff and a 2p piece [which I kept, for my trouble].

I also came home with:
  1. 2 belated birthday presents;
  2. and 7 rainbow-themed gifts:
And to complete our rainbow theme Jean [how many's that so far this year Jean?] made cakes that included 4 of the 7 colours with a deep indigo lavender and honey cake [which I forgot to photograph ... I just ate it instead!] plus these 3-colour citrus lovelies:
And finally for my cottage-themed stats:
  • Due to transport logistics 4 of us had to make the journey home together in he same car that only 3 of us travelled there in. So things were a little ... shall we say 'cosy' in there:
Once we, our crafting supplies, our clothes, and our shopping were all squeezed in there was around 2m square* of space left [* I'm purely guessing here ... like I know how to estimate empty space. I'm not a physicist y'know?] ... and that was all at head height ... and we needed that space for the circulation of oxygen ...

On the way home from the cottage, in the cosy car, we held on to the holiday feeling for a little longer by stopping for breakfast at Billy Bob's Parlour ... a brilliant, but utterly unexpected, American diner in the heart of the English countryside! [Seriously, if you're ever nearby the Skipton area you must drop in!]

There I had the 2 best pancakes I've eaten since I holidayed in Florida in 1989! With a side of streaky bacon and lots of maple syrup:
 And how's this for a photo-op for someone who documents their days in numbers? A sign post in their car park making it perfectly clear just how far from the good old US of A we really were:
Yet, while we may have been thousands of miles away from the authentic American diner experience ... we were only 165 miles to somewhere called North Piddle. Which sounds equally as entertaining ...

And lastly for March, while we're on the subject of the US ...

... in March the majority of orders in my Etsy shop were placed by customers in the US which spurred me to start keeping a list of which of the 50 states I've had the pleasure to post to. And so far in 2015 it's ... 

11 out of 50:
Which, for 3 months in, and for a small person running a micro-business, from a tiny work-room, in a small English town ... is not a bad statistic is it?

It would be fun to think I could post out papery inspiration to all 50 states ... I guess I'll have to start researching how I can best market my shop to the remaining 39 now ...


Well, those were my numberly musings ... how about yours?

As ever you're welcome to join me and the statistical summarisers who keep me company while I'm memory-keeping-by-numbers.

And if you just dropped in to catch up - hello!!! It's nice to have got to share the last 31 days with you.

Wishing you a fresh and shimmering April ahead!

Julie :-)